Friday, January 21, 2005

Cheney: "Israel will Act First" on Iran -

Cheney: "Israel will Act First" on Iran -: "Cheney: "Israel will Act First" on Iran
1/21/2005 8:30:00 AM GMT

Israel "might well decide to act first" to destroy Iran’s alleged nuclear programme, Cheney said

In direct threat on Inauguration Day, Vice President Dick Cheney asserted that Bush’s administration is determined to confront Iran directly in it its second term.

In a radio interview broadcast on MSNBC, Cheney said that Iran was on the top of the Bush’s list of world trouble spots, expressing concern that Israel "might well decide to act first" to destroy Iran’s alleged nuclear programme.

"You look around the world at potential trouble spots, Iran is right at the top of the list," the vice president said.

Israel would leave the world worrying "about cleaning up the diplomatic mess afterward," he added.

Cheney’s tough language that day was apparently part of Bush’s administration's efforts to halt Iran’s nuclear program; it claims is being used as a covert to produce atomic bomb.

Recently, Washington has been issuing increasingly staunch warnings to the Islamic Republic, thinking that those threats, among which was to refer Iran’s nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions, would shake Iran and force it to suspend its nuclear programme.

According to analysts, this is the first time a senior official in the U.S. government amplifies the threat by suggesting that the United States could be unable to prevent military attack by its close alley, Israel.

The startling reference to an Israeli attack was "the kind of strong language that will get their attention in Tehran," a diplomat in Washington said on condition of anonymity.

"There's a rhetorical escalation here: They've ratcheted up the threat level by bringing Israel in," said Henri J. Barkey, a former State Department official during the Clinton administration. "They're using the fact of the inauguration, and the uncertainty people have about where they're going in the next term, to say, 'Look, we're not going to let up on Iran.' "

Last week, Bush said he wouldn’t rule out military action against Iran. "I will never take any option off the table," he said.

During her Senate confirmation hearings this week, Secretary of State-designate Condoleezza Rice labeled Iran as one of six "outposts of tyranny" that would require U.S. attention.

Cheney said that Washington believes Tehran has a "fairly robust, new nuclear program."

The EU big three; Germany, France and Britain have been negotiating with Iran over the past few months, in an attempt to persuade it suspend its nuclear program, an approach U.S. officials doubt its success.

"At some point, if the Iranians don't live up to their commitments, the next step will be to take it to the United Nations Security Council and seek the imposition of international sanctions," Cheney said.

Also during the Inauguration Day interview, Cheney admitted he overestimated the pace of Iraq's recovery from the U.S.-led occupation.

Cheney also said he didn’t anticipate how long it would take the Iraqis to be able to run their country.

During the recent weeks, circulating reports suggested that U.S. officials are considering taking a military action against Iran, but Cheney raised the stakes by suggesting that Israel might take the first step.

Asked whether the U.S. could ask Israel to initiate a military strike on Iran, Cheney answered:

"One of the concerns that people have is that Israel might do it without being asked," Cheney said. "If, in fact the Israelis became convinced the Iranians had significant nuclear capability — given the fact that Iran has a stated policy that their objective is the destruction of Israel — the Israelis might well decide to act first."

Israel also claims that Iran is preparing for producing an atomic bomb in two to three years. And Israeli officials said they might launch military strikes against the country’s nuclear facilities, as a way to set the Iranian program back.

"Iran poses a clear threat to international peace and security," an Israeli diplomat said on condition of anonymity. "Iran is a leading sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East, while actively developing weapons of mass destruction and nuclear programs. The world should unite and pressure Iran from these destructive activities.""

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